It all started with this:
“Do you think you could copy this and make me a new one?” asked my friend Ruth.
There were several problems with this original: She hated the turtle neck. The body and sleeves were too short and the armhole too tight. But Ruth really liked the basic look, and especially the colour scheme and the softness and drape of the fabric.
I eyed the design. It was fairly simple. I said “ok”. We looked for a pattern, but nothing was quite right. It was apparent I’d have to design one.
Several weeks, and one major, stressful secret knitting project later, this is what I have produced:
At first, I thought that being a basic raglan design, I’d simply knit it in the round from the top down (the easiest way). However, when I thought about the stripes and the single colour sleeves, I decided it might be easier to knit the jumper in pieces to avoid problems with changing colours.
We went shopping for yarn. Ruth is one of those “itch” averse people, so the yarn had to be very soft. It needed to have a certain drape to it to match the original garment. And it needed to be warm. This meant a merino wool yarn with a little silk content for the drape. We chose Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK. The only yarn that we could find in Wellington with all the required properties.
Then came the pressure point – designing the jumper to fit Ruth perfectly and look fantastic. I modify patterns as a matter of course, I’ve designed clothes for my kids, and as you can see in this blog, hats and gloves and scarves, but I’ve never designed an adult-sized sweater from scratch. (One could argue it’s not a design as I’ve taken the inspiration from an existing garment. But I’ll stick with ‘design’).
Now that it’s all done, it looks easy enough. But going ‘solo’, without the comfort of a pattern, and especially when it’s a fitted, stripey number was terrifying to my fragile confidence. I’ll probably look back at this in a year’s time and laugh, but I guess one’s first self-designed adult garment is always a little scary. Most especially when it’s not for yourself!
Yarn specifics and design details are Ravelled here.
It’s really a simple pattern, with basic decreases for the waist and sleeves, but I had very specific ideas in mind about the design of this garment, and suffered a bit of confidence-loss at the armhole and collar points (would all the pieces fit together? Would the collar lie as intended!??? Would the neckline be right???) As it is typical when I’m unsure of things, I procrastinated. I insisted on a few too many fittings… poor long-suffering Ruth! And suddenly, a whole pile of other little projects seemed way more urgent than this one…
Ruth is an illustrator and children’s book author. Her books are really too cute and I think they make perfect gifts – check out her website to see her work. Last week she told me she wanted to wear the sweater on a school-visit tour in August… erk!!!
I gritted my teeth and finished the sweater. I took it around to her place, unblocked, just to make sure it really did fit before I blocked it and wove in the million yarn ends. Feeling slightly sick, I waited with bated breath as she tried it on…
Here’s Ruth wearing her finished and blocked Candy Stripes sweater:
What a relief that it looks good on her. I’m still slowly letting out my breath.
This won’t be turned into a pattern as it’s a one-off for Ruth. But perhaps you’ll see influences of it in another design. One day.